Hiking Table Mountain in less-than-ideal conditions – 7 July 2016

As with all mountains, Table Mountain attracts lots of cloud and rain. It’s called orographic weather – micro-climates generated by topography – and it’s usually bad. Proximity to an ocean doesn’t help. Weather very much dictates the experience gained from hiking Table Mountain: hiking in the cloud as opposed to the clear is very different. Add wind and rain, both common occurrences on the mountain, and you understand how adverse conditions can get.

Winter sees a lot of rain dumped on the mountain, giving life to dry watercourses. Springs well up, ravines gush and cascades draped themselves down cliffs. Waterfalls can be heard thundering down defiles, charging the air with energy. Table Mountain hikes leading up the lush eastern side are ideal to view waterfalls, but some stretches may be inundated and complicates hiking.

For most, Table Mountain hiking is about the views. While views are a worthy incentive to hike up, it’s not the end all to hiking Table Mountain. The varied and striking topography, the diversy and unique flora, the thrill of climbing a mountain, and the sense of achievement gained from reaching the summit, all these combine to reward your efforts and help shift the focus of the absence of views. Table Mountain gets a lot of cloud – many visit the city for a few days and leave without even having seen the mountain – so hiking Table Mountain in the cloud should not be lamented as rotten luck.

If you’re set on hiking Table Mountain, bear in mind the possibility of bad weather: strong wind (which results in cableway closure, necessitating a hike-down), dense cloud (no views), rain, heat and slippery rock. Nature can be a vixen: beautiful, but moody – so take the rough with the smooth when you seek to immerse yourself in a mountain environment.

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